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Philippine Latter-day Saints Celebrate 50 Years of the Church in the Islands Nation

Thousands of Philippine Latter-day Saints recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being established in the Philippines.

More than 4,000 members performed traditional songs and lively dances in elaborate costumes at a cultural celebration on Saturday, 30 April 2011. The event depicted the Church’s history as well as the local culture and history. The youth started practicing their dance routines and making their colorful costumes as early as two years ago.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our young members to demonstrate their talents and come together to celebrate the founding of the Church in the Philippines,” said Elder Miguel R. Valdez, Area Seventy for the Church and chairman of the Jubilee Committee.

“The chance to celebrate a 50th anniversary doesn’t come around too often,” Elder Valdez added.

Following the Saturday celebration, members attended a special conference on Sunday, 1 May, connecting leaders of the Church from Salt Lake City with the Philippine Latter-day Saints via satellite.

A special part of the celebration included the attendance of Nenita Reyes Gapiz, one of the first eight members baptized in the Church in 1961. Also, three of the first four missionaries to the Philippines — Harry Murray, Kent Lowe and Raymond Goodson — and their wives attended the weekend activities.

Fifty years later, Church membership has grown to nearly 650,000, with over 1,200 congregations throughout the Philippines. Highlighting the growth of the Church in the Philippines is the number of temples that have been built. For many years, the Philippine Saints traveled to the Manila temple, which was dedicated in 1984. Then in June 2010, the Cebu temple was dedicated, and later, in the October 2010 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced that a new temple would be constructed in the city of Urdaneta on the island of Luzon, approximately 100 miles north of Manila.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir also celebrated the historical event by inviting the Philippine Madrigal Singers to Utah. The group performed during the choir’s weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday, 17 April.

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